• Current exposure of Yukon Flats tribal villages' residents to PM₂.₅ from natural and anthropogenic sources: establishing baselines for climate change adaptation and resilience

      Edwin, Stanley G.; Mölders, Nicole; Collins, Richard L.; Fochesatto, Javier; Stuefer, Martin (2020-08)
      How healthy is the air in the villages during the summer fire seasons? Why does Fort Yukon always seem to be colder than the surrounding villages in winter and spring? How healthy is the air we breathe in our homes and workplaces? These are but a few of the questions asked by Alaska's Eastern Interior residential village's Indigenous Tribal Governments. A tribal-owned network of aerosol monitors and meteorological stations was installed at Ts'aahudaaneekk'onh Denh, Gwichyaa Zheh, Jałgiitsik, and Danzhit Khànlaj̜j̜ in the Yukon Flats, Alaska. To assess the exposure of residents in rural communities in the Yukon Flats to particulate matter of 2.5 [micro]m or less in diameter (PM2.5), both indoor and outdoor concentration observations were carried out from spring 2017 through to August 2019. Surface-based-temperature inversions occurred under calm wind conditions due to surface radiative cooling. In May, local emissions governed air quality with worst conditions related to road and river dust. As the warm season progressed, worst air quality was due to transport of pollutants from upwind wildfires. Absorption of solar radiation in the smoke layer and upward scattering enhanced stability and fostered the persistence of the surface-based-temperature inversions. Under weak large-scale forcing mountain-valley circulations develop that are driven by the differences in insolation. During the long dark nights, surface radiative cooling occurs in the near-surface layer of the mountain slopes of the Brooks, Ogilvie and White Mountains Ranges and at the bottom of the valley. Here surface-based-temperature inversion - known as roof-top inversions - form, while the cold air drains from the slopes. A frontal wedge forms when the cold air slides over the relatively colder air in the valley. Drainage of cold air from the Brooks Range governed the circulation and cold air pooling in the valley. At the site, which is closest to the mountains, concentrations marginally changed in the presence of temperature inversions. Indoor concentrations were measured at 0.61 m in homes and at 1.52 m heights both in homes and office/commercial buildings. Air quality was better at both heights in cabins than frame homes both during times with and without surface-based-temperature inversions. During summer indoor concentrations reached unhealthy for sensitive groups to hazardous conditions for extended times that even exceeded the high outdoor concentrations. Indoor and outdoor concentrations were strongest related for office/commercial buildings, followed by frame houses and cabins. These are but a few of the answers found in this research of meteorology effects, unhealthy locations for breathing PM2.5 air outdoors and in homes.